Review: Arrow "Suicide Squad" S2E16

Ganesha
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Well, I had asked earlier if the John Diggle character would get some time in the limelight again, and it turns out he does. This week’s episode focuses on Diggle being recruited by his ex-wife’s agency “Advanced Research Group United Support” A.R.G.U.S (which came first, SHIELD or ARGUS?) to go after an Afghani WMD dealer that they had captured earlier when they were on active duty, with Ben Browder, “John Crichton” from Farscape and some time on some of the Star Gate series. It just so happens that I started a Farscape rewatch on Neflix this week, so when I saw Browder’s name turn up in the credits, I was wondering where we’d see him: In flashback.

The episode starts out with Felicity brining cocoa to John as he sits in his car outside her home, doing his regular job as a bodyguard employed by Queen Enterprises. He’s protecting Felicity from Slade Wilson, who, as we know, is seeking revenge against Ollie and plans on killing everyone around him (see the upcoming “Arrow: Catch Up” reviews for more information). John gets a text message to meet at a hotel room, and finds his ex-wife there, in flagrante delicto (at least as flagrante as prime-time TV can be). As they leave the room, they are met by Amanda, the director of A.R.G.U.S., who tells Lila that she needs her for a mission. Really, Amanda wants them both, so they head to A.R.G.U.S. HQ where the mission in briefed and Diggle meets his team: Bronze Tiger (the claw guy, played by Michael Jai White), Shrapnel (Sean Maher, y’know, “Simon Tam”), and John Diggle’s arch-enemy: Deadshot (played by Michael Rowe). They form the “Suicide Squad,” which is in quotes because it’s an actual team from the DC universe. If Sheldon Cooper where here, he could give you-all more background, I can only refer you to searching them out on your own. The writers and producers of this show have been consistently bringing in DC characters, but, as Stephen Amell points out in a short interview you can find on Youtube, they give the characters a little twist, for example, in Ollie calling Thea “Speedy,” when it’s Roy Harper who is “Speedy” in the comics (at least Roy is the first “Speedy.” Did you ever notice that teen sidekicks are very much like Star Trek “Redshirts”?).

 

Lily convinces John that the world is not as black and white as he wants it to be, so to get the bigger target of the arms dealer, who has a stolen a vial super-sarin gas that is so strong, one-half milliliter has a ten mile kill radius (give or take), John has to work with the evil dudes. The “Suicide Squad” and Lila and John head out on the first part of their mission, to reintroduce John to Gholem Qadir, the arms dealer, who has been cleaning up his act in public. John is supposed to save Qadir’s life again, from Deadshot, with Bronze Tiger acting as John’s body guard and Sharpnel as the wheelman for the getaway car. Shrapnel tries to make a run for it, but Amanda detonates the bomb implanted in his head, revealing that the rest of the “Squad” has such “incentives” in place to keep them on task. This is John’s second chance to show his moral superiority and indignation, and there are more to come.

 

John Diggle gets his own flashbacks in this episode, to his time in Afghanistan, with Ben Browder as his CO or NCO and Lila on the team of GIs escorting civilians through some dunes. Lila tells Browder that the women need to rest. Browder gets to scoff, and ask why the women don’t just say so, and Lila gets to tell him that it’s because he’s a man. Browder gets to scoff again and say, “Women and the military don’t mix.” Through an act of kindness, Lila learns who Qadir is, and John gets to rub Browder’s nose in it. The patrol is ambushed and, while the GIs are busy, Qadir tries to make a break for it. John shoots an insurgent who is about to kill Qadir, thus saving his life.

In the present, John’s current act of saving Qadir has earned John an invitation to a party/art show at Qadir’s mansion, where he just happens to have the vial of super-sarin stored, somewhere. While prepping for that part of the mission, John and Deadshot, Floyd Lawton, get some time to chat. It turns out Floyd has been discretely giving money to his daughter, which softens John to Lawton a bit. Lawton makes a copy of John’s fingerprint so Lawton can get into the party as John, in what has to be the crappiest security system known to man. If Qadir’s security team can collect fingerprints to ID the guests, why couldn’t they collect photos as well? This kind of stuff just drives me crazy, having been a soldier and a security officer. This was their quick and easy solution to getting Deadshot into the party, so we just gotta roll with it.

John and Lila get some time on the dance floor, where they get to talk about the moral landscape. Lila gets to tell John that he’s too rigid in his moralizations, and John gets to huff about it. Deadshot uses his bionic eye to locate a hidden room in Qadir’s basement. Once he gets in the room, however, he sees a 500 gallon incubator, brewing up more of the super-sarin. The incubator looks EXACTLY like the picture Amanda showed Lila and John when she was convincing John to be part of the mission, so why they are both surprised when Deadshot tells them that it isn’t just the vial, I have no idea. This gives Amanda an excuse to call in a drone strike on the mansion with all the civilians inside, like in Clear and Present Danger. John has yet another chance to mount his moral hobby horse, this time to save the guests at the party. He starts out making a toast, then reveals that Qadir is making the super-sarin in the basement, and that the drone is on the way, which, we presume, is enough to get the 1%-ers into their limos and out of harm’s way. John, Lila and bronze Tiger are ordered to the rendezvous point, and Deadshot is told to stay by the incubator. John runs down to save Deadshot who has resigned himself to his fate. John pulls out the “what about your daughter?” card, and he and Deadshot flee to the van. As the van is leaving, we see the Predator drone loop around the mansion and start following the van. Deadshot realizes this is because his implanted bomb is also the targeting device for the drone’s missiles, in another headslapper. Why a headslapper? Because all the drones that I know of are piloted remotely by real humans out of bases in Nevada. But, again, it moves the plot forward and gives Lila a chance to save Deadshot by using Bronze Tiger’s claw to cut the bomb out of Deadshot’s neck and throwing it on the street. Needless to say, Amanda is angry that Lila and John caused an international kerfluffle because the missile hit the street and not Qadir’s house, with all the rich civilians in it, which, in TV logic, would have been easier to explain away. M’kay.

Wrapping up John’s part of this episode, we need to flash back to Afghanistan where John discovers that the insurgent he shot while saving Qadir was just a kid. Back at base, he tells Lila what he learned, and she points out that it’s justified because the kid was shooting at them. John says, “Not in my world.” This is also were John learns Lila’s name for the first time, which, again, is TV logic. In the present, John finds new respect for Deadshot, since, you know, Deadshot was only killing those people to get money for his daughter. John and Lila decide they love each other after all, in spite of their differences.

In between, we move the major arc with Slade Wilson’s revenge plot along a little. Felicity tries to trace Slade’s accounts and business transactions to no avail. Ollie goes to the Russian Mafia (do they all run garages?) to get some info. The Russian Don wants Olli to reciprocate by enforcing repayment of a loan, but Ollie refuses. The Don tells Ollie to take a hike, but Ollie beats up the Russian goons and threatens the life of the Don. Later, the Don gets some info for Ollie, but tells him this is the last favor he’ll ever do for him, ‘cause Ollie doesn’t play fair. Ollie has also been having nightmares about Shado, so he tries to protect Sara/Black Canary by pushing her away. This gives Laurel the chance to show she’s the one who is morally superior by telling Sara to not let Ollie get away with his usual shenanigans, and by telling Ollie that pushing Sara away is only going to hurt them all.

Felicity uses the info from the Russian Mafia Don to get an address for Ollie, who shows up in Slade’s office to find the Don in the chair with an arrow in his eye. I guess Ollie doesn’t need to worry about the Don being mad at him any more, but in the real world, I would expect that Ollie now has a price on his head because he used violence against a Brother to get something for nothing, and got the Brother killed in the process. We’ll see if the writers even bother with that. After Ollie discovers the Don’s body, Ollie sees a video show of Shado being cute and girly, even with a Japanese-style paper fan. Where this video came from is anyone’s guess: TV logic. Ollie rushes back to the lair to tell Sara that Slade is too far ahead of him. Sara reminds Ollie that she is not the girl from the island. Ollie breaks into the A.R.G.U.S offices, darts some of the agents, all to convince Amanda to help him. She says she has just the thing, a new mercenary/assassin on the scene by the name of Deathstroke. I thought this might be Malcolm Merlin’s chance to return, but the Wikipedia entry says, “whom the pair realize is actually Slade.” Too bad. I thought it would have been much more interesting for Ollie to need to team up with Merlin to take out Slade. This would force the Queen family to confront Thea’s parentage. Oh, yeah, that reminds me, there was a quick take of Ollie and Sara watching Ollie’s mom at a press conference for her campaign, trying to get more public swimming pools for the ‘Glades. Ollie gets to stoke his anger at his mom’s mendacity because Moira says Ollie and Thea loved swimming when they were kids and Ollie tells Sara they hated it. Good news is that Summer Glau will be back next week. Isabel is finally going after full control of Queen Enterprises.

Whew! That was just the synopsis. If I’m going to write more of these, I will need to learn how to move through that part quicker.

My take? John Diggle should have left Deadshot to die, but then John would not have found out why Deadshot targeted John’s brother, I suppose. I also don’t see what Johnny sees in Lila, since he is portrayed to be someone who prefers to see the world in black and white (they even made a little double entendre to the fact that the couple is black and white) and she’s a moral relativist. “That’s love!” It really would be a lot more interesting if Deathstroke had been Malcolm Merlin, but that’s too deep for this show, I guess, and maybe John B-ARROW-man is too busy/expensive.

Will conservatives like this show? Why not? This Oliver Queen is not a flaming liberal like the one in the comics was designed to be. “Green Arrow” was supposedly created as a liberal counter to Bruce Wayne’s conservativism. This Ollie is a moralist. He started out in Season 1 wishing to right his father’s wrongs, which was, in fact, his father’s dying wish. The trouble with Slade Wilson has been distracting Ollie from his bigger mission, as Felicity pointed out in this episode, and it seems it will all come to a head next week. We even get some corporate in-fighting next week. The Queen family and the Lance family have their internal and cross-family struggles, but Laurel showed in this episode that family does come first. She encouraged Ollie and Sara to stick together, because they are the two people she (Laurel) loves most in the world. Moral conflicts are part of the main plots for each season’s arcs and the subplots between the characters.

I’ll try to backtrack on the previous episodes, and I do encourage you-all to at least catch up with Season 2 when you have time. I’m glad they’ve been keeping it going, I was honestly worried about it getting renewed after Season 1, but I see that Season 3 has been approved. Ollie spent five years on the island, so we should expect 5 seasons, total, to tell us more of the backstory and how Ollie, Slade, Sara and the Russian each made their escape.

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